Modesto native Jeremy Renner didn't take home a Screen Actors Guild Award on Saturday night, but family and friends remain optimistic about his Oscar chances.
The star of the critically- acclaimed Iraq War drama "The Hurt Locker" left empty-handed, but got to share the screen with the likes of Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman and George Clooney at the star-studded event.
"Seeing him like that and seeing him on stage presenting is as exciting as the nomination," said Renner's sister Kym Vieira, who organized a viewing party at her house with more than a dozen family and friends.
"To be nominated with that level of actors, all experienced, all amazing, it's like he has pole vaulted into this. I think he is humbled by it, too."
The 39-year-old Beyer High graduate was up for outstanding actor in a leading role for his portrayal of Staff Sgt. William James, an explosives disposal technician.
The other nominees in his category were eventual winner Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart), Colin Firth ("A Single Man"), Clooney ("Up in the Air") and Freeman ("Invictus").
The film's ensemble was nominated for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture but lost to the "Inglourious Basterds" cast.
The SAG Awards honor the best performances in film and television as voted on by the actors themselves.
Rounding out the night's top film honors were Sandra Bullock for lead actress ("The Blind Side"), supporting actor Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") and supporting actress Mo'Nique ("Precious").
The big TV winners were Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock") for comedy leads, Michael C. Hall ("Dexter") and Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife") for drama leads, "Glee" for comedy ensemble and "Mad Men" for drama ensemble.
Renner did appear on stage to present a clip of "The Hurt Locker" alongside castmates Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty.
His appearance drew whoops and cheers from his assembled friends and family back in Modesto. The camera panned to Renner several times throughout the night.
"I love that jacket," said his father, Lee Renner, admiring the blue velvet coat his son wore on the red carpet. "I'm going to lose some weight and borrow it from him."
As one of the last major televised award shows before the Academy Awards, the SAGs are are one of the key predictors for Oscar nominations.
8 BAFTA nominations
Though "The Hurt Locker" did not take home any hardware at the SAG Awards or last week's Golden Globes, it won two top honors at the recent Critics' Choice Movie Awards -- for picture and director.
Renner earned a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award nomination for leading actor earlier this week.
The film garnered nods for best picture, director, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, sound and special visual effects. "The Hurt Locker" tied "Avatar" and "An Education" for the most BAFTA nominations, with eight each.
The BAFTA Awards (the British equivalent of the Oscars) will be Feb. 21 in London, two weeks before the Academy Awards.
As award season rolls on, family said it has been amazing watching the exposure Renner and the film have received.
"Four or five years ago, no one knew who he was. Now, he walks around and people say, 'Oh, my gosh, are you Jeremy Renner?' " Vieira said. "It's really exciting for all of us."
Renner was featured last month in an Esquire photo spread and will be in an upcoming issue of Vanity Fair in a portrait with "The Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow, shot by famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Released in June, "The Hurt Locker" and its lead, Renner, have received a slew of honors by critics associations including the National Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Boston Film Critics, San Francisco Film Critics, Alliance of Women Film Journalists and the Gotham Awards.
Renner's family is organizing a dawn viewing party for the Academy Award nominations in 10 days.
The big discussion after the SAG Awards ended was whether to serve waffles or pancakes.
"I don't want to jinx it, but I think the picture will be nominated at the very least," said Renner's father, Lee. "And even if he doesn't get a nomination himself, being the lead in an Academy Award-nominated film will definitely help his career."
The Academy Award nominations will be announced Feb. 2. The awards will be telecast March 7.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2284.